With Mandarin Oriental gearing up for regional expansion, sales and marketing director, Michael Hobson, explains why the hotels are a perfect fit for Middle East guests.
The Middle East has long been seen as a lucrative source market for hotel companies looking to promote properties in Europe or South East Asia, and Mandarin Oriental is no different.
But in addition to attracting Middle Eastern guests to hotels around the world, the company is now planning its regional expansion, with two highly-anticipated properties — the Mandarin Oriental Doha, and the Mandarin Oriental Abu Dhabi, both scheduled to open in 2014.
Underlining its commitment to the region, Mandarin Oriental recently held a number of workshops to promote its hotels and connect with business partners from across the Middle East.
“Obviously this region is very important to us as an outbound market in particular,” explains sales and marketing director Michael Hobson.
“The workshops are a good chance for us to either establish relationships or re-connect with people we are already doing business with. They provide an opportunity for all of these people to get around and spend time in each and every hotel they are doing business with in a very efficient manner. We have found that the formula works very well.”
He adds: “I think that the workshops help us to understand the needs, wants and preferences of our key customers and bookers so we can now respond to that accordingly. We must also consider that this is a business that is very fluid so there are always updates from our side, but also from their side as well. It is all about working together as partners.”
But finding the right partners is crucial for the hotel brand, stresses Hobson, who is on the look out for agents who can deliver the “right” sort of clientele.
“There needs to be a good match between the partners we work with, and the Mandarin Oriental customer — we are really interested in identifying those agencies that can deliver us the right customers and then we can really approach them with incentives to attract that clientele.
“We are always looking to find that match, and when we do find it we are always delighted to host those agents to come and see us and to experience our products and services,” adds Hobson.
Continuing to find partners in the region is an important step for the company, which is on a drive to increase business from the region.
The Middle East currently accounts for “very significant” proportion of the company’s global business which, despite the global economic downturn, is continuing to do well.